Any city dweller, especially those living in an apartment, is familiar with the worry of a long-awaited package being snatched from your stoop or building’s mail room. Do you know what to do when your mail actually gets tampered with?

Ensure Mail Theft Has Occured

First of all, make sure your suspicion that your package or mail was stolen is strongly supported. Have you had things lost before? Sometimes mail simply falls through the cracks. Check that packages weren’t hidden or misplaced by the deliverer or post office, even if you received a notification that it was delivered. Blogger and freelance writer Emily Price ordered an AC unit during the recent California heat wave, and was disappointed to find it missing, presumed stolen, not long after it was marked as delivered online. She contacted the seller of the ordered item ASAP to let them know about the situation. Luckily, they sympathized and offered a refund or to send her another AC unit.

When Thefts Become More Worrisome

Sometimes thefts become more worrisome than a single AC unit. In July 2018, residents of a Venice, FL apartment complex experienced a rash of stolen packages and envelopes from their mail room. This included hundreds of dollars of boxed items and even one resident’s new debit card. The thief caused enough of a local hubbub that the residents filed a formal police report. It paid off ; local police connected the mail theft with similar thefts from local stores.  They used surveillance footage to identify the thief. Alleged thief Madison Johnson was arrested by Venice police on July 13. He was then charged with 10 counts of fraud.

Unless your hypothetical mail thefts were part of a string of thefts, or you had an expensive or dangerous enough item stolen (i.e. fine jewelry, a firearm, very expensive electronic devices), you might not have the same results from filing a police report. Filing a report is still a great thing to do to cover all your bases, but don’t put all your faith in the police showing up with your recovered package. Alert your landlord, fellow tenants and neighbors, the seller of any stolen packages, and your credit card company or bank if you paid for the stolen purchase on your card.

Always Plan Ahead

The best ways to avoid mail theft strife? Plan ahead. Be proactive about keeping track of your mail. As a renter in the city, for example, you may move often. Be sure to submit a change of address. This should be done 14 days before your moving day. If not, your mail may end up at your old address. Best case scenario, the new tenant sends your mail back to the post office. Worst case? Your private info is compromised and you might not know until it’s too late.

If you know the expensive package you’re ordering is a good target, have it sent to your office. You can also send it to a friend’s house, or a secure mailbox like an Amazon locker. If you know your belongings are being sent to a safe place before you’re even home, you avoid the issue entirely.

Have you ever been a victim of mail theft? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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